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A couple of American sides toured south of the border to Cancun 7s last month, finishing first and second for a second-straight year. Tiger, based in Columbus, Ohio, beat Azul of Texas, 26-5, to claim another Cancun title.
Azul is an invitational touring side like Tiger and Atlantis, but it receives less of the fanfare. With plenty of pure American talent, like former Texas A&M All American Chris Parker, former East Carolina All American Matt Hughston, Life product Gerson Blaise and Charlotte’s Ty Elkins, Azul put on a performance worthy of notice in Mexico.
Azul advanced out of pool play to beat the Mexican National Team’s second side 33-0 in the quarterfinals. Joel Yogerst, Hughston and Chris Slater scored four tries a piece through those opening matches.
In the semis Azul ran up against Blackheath of England, and the American side prevailed 14-12. Slater and Hughston both had very nice runs, with Hughston providing a dagger, tearing through four tacklers starting at the 50 meter. Blackheath came back with a try 13 minutes in, but wound up a conversion short.
Azul fell short against a very good Tiger side in the final.
“It was much more competitive then the score line with a hard hitting, aggressive and fast pace style of play,” Azul’s Ty Landry said.
Hughston served as captain on the tour, pushing the boys every match.
“He has a motor that is unique for a big man, and he's found a home at hooker,” Landry said of the captain.
Chris Parker put on an aerial clinic at kickoff time with Zach Miller and Milledge providing beautiful balls for him to go after. Milledge, Slater and Miller provided directional skill and vision on the day putting speedsters like newcomer Joel Yogerst and Gerson Blaise away for flying tries. Glue players were Pete Kanicki and young up-and-coming talent Amro Gouda. Ty Elkins and Brad Yandle provided much needed bench minutes.
Azul will regroup and make another run at the Serevi RugbyTown Sevens Aug. 14-16 in Glendale, Colo.